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Danger Doom

"Rap these days is like a pain up in the neck/Cornier and phonier than a play fight." Seems Danger Doom's mumble-mouthed MC MF Doom would turn back to some bygone, fantasy hip-hop era, evoking the age when he was in footie pajamas, munching cereal, rotting his brains on Scooby-Doo, G.I. Joe, and Merrie Melodies. But more than mere reminiscing, The Mouse and the Mask revels in cartoon references, from the toy commercials that passed as Saturday-morning entertainment in the '80s to the current, hipper fare of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. Eleven of the 14 tracks feature cameos by Adult Swim staples such as the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Space Ghost, and Harvey Birdman; the disc concludes with a rap riff from A.T.H.F.'s Meatwad and features their neighbor, Carl, requesting "somethin' badass, like R.E.O. Speedwagon or somethin'." Those who can't quote Cartoon Network chapter and verse will find corners of Danger Doom too obscurist, but the album bears repeat listens because of beats by Gray Album mash-up master DJ Danger Mouse (a fitting collaborator, considering he's named for a cartoon rodent). And Doom's humor keeps the schtick from getting too sticky: "We'll be right back, after these messages/Fellas, grab your nut sacks, chicks squeeze your breastesses." No play fight here, just play.

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